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HANGING OUR HEADS IN SHAME DOWN AT THE VFW HALL - Fallout continues following the Navy's astonishing decision to not only relieve Commander Joseph Darlak of his post following his frigate's rather liquid stopover in the Russian port city of Vladivostok last September, but also to release a report detailing their investigation into the matter.

Whiny people are bemoaning the report's accounts of excessive drinking, strip-clubbing in dress blues, and loud music on board ship. But the real horror, according to the grizzled veterans who spend their days within the dim confines of the VFW Post 1392 Canteen in Point Loma, is the revelation of the Vladivostok Directive, or, as it has come to be known 'round here, "the pussy protocol."

"Dammit, what is this country coming to?" asks Joe Smith, an ex-infantryman who, at 87, can still drink stout from noon until closing time. "In my day, news about the strength of local vodka would have been met with shouts of hallelujah. Now, it comes as a dad-blamed warning." Smith is referring to paragraph nine of the report, which reads:


"And what the hell is this about not going shot-for-shot?" asks Smith. "What the hell are you supposed to do when a Russian officer proposes a toast to your health, or to your country, or to better times ahead? Tell him you're watching your figure and decline?"

The report goes on to answer that question, in part one of its Directive:


"No bottoms up?" asks ex-Marine Rock Manley. "NO BOTTOMS UP? You're supposed to look a Russkie in the eye when he hands you a shot of his country's single greatest achievement, raise your glass in soldierly solidarity, and then take a polite sip when he knocks it back? Why don't you just hand him your weapon and your United States Government-issued condoms while you're at it? Because congratulations, you've just declared that you won't be needing them, on account of how you're a pretty little princess."

The second part of the Directive came in for equal scorn:


"So let me get this straight," offered former Ranger Ed Fume. "In every other city in the world, a sailor can get off the ship with a drinking buddy and head out into the night. But in Vladivostok, in that one godforsaken city, they've got to take along a nanny? Am I in the Twilight Zone? Did the Cold War go the other way? Is Russia the sole remaining superpower? Because otherwise, I'm not sure how to explain this. I guess we've been allowing women in combat for longer than I thought."

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